In my last article, I mentioned that stress is one of the many causes of mental health.
In today’s article, we are going to learn about the meaning of stress, its types, and the effect on our mental health.
Of course, we know that it’s impossible to be alive and completely stress-free.
So, in this article, we will learn how we can manage our stress and live happily and healthily no matter what life throws our way.
What Is Stress And Types?
Stress is how the body reacts to any change it experiences, which requires a shift or a response. The body often reacts to these changes physically, mentally, or emotionally.
No one alive is immune to stress, from infants to children to adolescents and then adults.
We all react differently to situations in our lives, because what is stressful to one person may be pleasurable or have little effect on others.
So, how can we know we are experiencing stress? Through fear, worry, or an inability to relax.
When it becomes more chronic, we find symptoms like increased heart rate, uneven sleeping patterns, eating disorders.
Lack of concentration, worsening pre-existing health conditions and increased use of alcohol and other hard drugs are all parts.
There are basically four categories of stress that can adversely affect our mental health. Let’s glance at them:
- Physical Stress: Traumatic experiences often cause this such as (fatal accidents, rape or insurgencies), work overtime, tiredness, hormonal imbalance or substance abuse.
- Psychological Stress: This kind of stress affects our emotions (fears, sadness, frustrations, anger and grief), our logic or cognitive reasoning (guilt, shame, jealousy, perfectionism, or panic attacks). It also affects our perception (beliefs, attitudes and worldview).
- Psychosocial Stress: Relationship/marital difficulties, lack of social support, poverty, loss of employment, savings, and loved ones often cause this.
- Psychospiritual stress: This happens when a person struggles with confusion regarding his or her long-held values, meaning, or purpose in life.
If we don’t properly manage these stress, they could take a toll on our mental health and result in more acute issues.
Effect Of Stress On Mental Health
Stress affects our mental health in a variety of ways. Here are some ways:
- Stress activates the release of hormones, such as cortisol, which can interfere with our brain and cause a disruption in our mood or thinking patterns. It showed this in symptoms like anxiety, depression and irritability.
- It reduces the effects of coping mechanism and makes it more difficult to handle our thoughts and emotions and leads to overwhelming feelings and helplessness. This result in low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
- Stress can also affect our body, resulting in heart disease, high blood pressure and digestive issues.
- Stress can have a significant impact on our sleep patterns, making it difficult to relax or get a good night’s rest.
- It can also affect our personal and social relationship, making us irritable, argumentative or isolating ourselves.
From what we have learnt so far, stress contributes majorly to mental health challenges. Let’s now look at the ways we can manage our stress.
How to Manage Mental Health Stress And Get Over It
Physical activity is one way to manage stress because exercise releases the endorphin hormone which is a natural mood booster and can help reduce tension and anxiety.
Find an exercise that you enjoy and make it part of your routine.
2. Mindfulness and Meditation:
This is a powerful tool for managing stress, as it helps you focus on the present moment and increases feelings of calm and clarity.
Start with just a few minutes daily and accumulate the time you spend practicing mindfulness and meditation.
3. Get Adequate Sleep:
Maintaining good quality sleep is an essential way to manage stress because lack of sleep can increase anxiety and stress.
So aim to get a regular 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night and have a consistent bedtime routine.
4. Have a Support System:
Connect and form strong social connections with people.
Spending time with family and friends can help boost your mental health, provide a sense of support and a welcome distraction from the stress of daily life.
Make Relaxation a part of your daily life. Also, practice simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
5. Pursue Hobbies and Interests:
Engage in activities that you enjoy, and that can distract you from stress.
It could be painting, reading, or playing an instrument. Find an activity that brings you joy and make time for it in your schedule.
6. Limit Use of Caffeine and Alcohol:
Many people think substances can quickly fix stress, but in reality, they can actually worsen a person’s stress level.
Dr. Axe talks about the cooking therapy that can help relieve stress on mental health.
So limit your intake of these substances and focus on healthy habits that promote relaxation and well-being.
Conclusion On How To Manage Stress And Mental Health
Proper management of stress is important in maintaining a stable physical and mental health.
To successfully manage stress, we must understand what it is, the various ways it affects us.
Also, learn how to incorporate a few of these stress management techniques into our daily routine.
In my next article, we will learn about how anxiety can also contribute to mental health challenges.